Story at a glance

  • Astronomers have observed the star is giving off the appearance that it is blinking deep within the Milky Way.
  • The star, called VVV-WIT-08, is 100 times the size of the sun.
  • Theories are that the “blinking” has been caused by it being obscured by an orbiting planet or the dust ring surrounding a nearby plant or secondary star.

Astronomers have observed a star 100 times the size of the sun giving off the appearance that it is blinking deep within the Milky Way.

According to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomers found the blinking star, known as VVV-WIT-08, using the Vista telescope, which is utilized by the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

The star, located over 25,000 light years away, was observed dimming by up to 97 percent in 2012 before it slowly returned to its previous level of brightness over the next 100 days.


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“It appeared to come out of nowhere,” Leigh Smith, an astronomer with Cambridge University’s Institute of Astronomy, told The Guardian.

Theories of what could have resulted in the dimming or “blinking” have ranged from being obscured by an orbiting planet or the dust ring surrounding a nearby plant or secondary star.  

“Once you start to build up collections of several of these things, you can look at their properties in aggregate and unpick the mysteries of where these discs come from,” said Smith. “It allows us to learn how these systems evolve and what they do at the end of their lives.”


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Published on Jun 11, 2021